by: Ian K. McEwen, President, with contributions from John D. Radford
As businesses finalize their business plans for next year, many are finding the need more so than ever to recruit strong leaders. So in an interview or in checking references, how do you determine whether the candidate has demonstrated strong leadership qualities? Leadership is difficult to define. When you are looking for a leader, you need to understand the qualities of strong, competent, character leadership. Here are some common factors of leadership when compiling questions and interviewing candidates. During the interview process, the candidate needs to be prepared to cite specific examples that speak to leadership questions.
Leaders lead by example and exhibit the highest degree of honesty and integrity. They demonstrate dependability and trustworthiness. They exercise principled judgment in ‘Doing The Right Thing’. Their performance is not only based on service and contribution, it is also based on accountability and integrity. Top notch leaders bring to the table the business acumen of understanding basic business principles used to accomplish quality, customer, and fiscal objectives.
Leaders don’t blame, they learn. They take action in the face of a challenge by questioning the status quo and taking reasonable but calculated risks. They have the ability to “make changes, yet stand for values that don’t change.” Even with the risk of making mistakes, they demonstrate good independent courage, judgment, and self confidence.
Leaders demonstrate durability and persevere despite hardship. They stay on course to achieve the agreed upon objectives, even in ambiguous and complex situations. They show stick-to-it-iveness in securing and using resources to achieve desired results.
Leaders have a history of teaching, developing, and motivating people. They provide hope and encouragement to team members. Strong leaders develop more leaders. They encourage collaboration and show concern and consideration for the views, ideas, and perspectives of others. They act to enhance the professional development of not only themselves but others. They give credit where credit is due. Leaders are authentic and earn the trust and respect of colleagues and subordinates. They are able to break down barriers to assure team effectiveness and optimize results. Plans developed and implemented by strong leaders are delivered with transparency in mind.
Leaders are the ones who can be counted on to get the job done. They develop stretch objectives and allow the team to receive the accolades when the prizes are handed out. There are generally Six Sigma experts in indentifying appropriate processes which include prioritizing key issues, directing resources, and developing metrics to measure achievement. Leaders develop fallback plans to deal with potential negatives.
Leaders are excellent communicators and listeners. They exchange information and ideas freely that impact and influence others. They are also good listeners. Their listening skills are fuelled by their curiosity. In any interview, they will be able to provide compelling, concise examples to support their leadership skills and qualifications. They use appropriate business language, both oral and written, in every business situation. Leaders are calm under pressure and balance a high IQ with a high EQ.
Leaders display evidence of not only working hard but working smart. They have a passion for knowing and meeting customer/company requirements. They demonstrate a ‘desire to serve’ and often accept willingly different functional and geographical assignments.
No matter how leadership is defined, an interviewer’s questions and a candidate’s answers should uncover evidence of as many of the qualities above as possible.
The best definition of a leader can be summed up as follows: “One who can move the human heart”.